After months of listening to a dog whining and yelping in distress from what they believed was physical abuse, neighbors banded together to call police on behalf of a vulnerable 10-month-old Rottweiler. Its owner was in jail Friday facing a felony charge of animal abuse.
Gainesville police arrested Nicole Dazah Richards, 25, of Gainesville on Thursday evening after complaints from neighbors in her apartment complex, who provided videos and witness accounts. She had adopted the dog earlier this year, police said.
Police took the dog into custody and said it appears to be in good health. A judge banned Richards from being around animals or possessing any firearms until her trial.
Police began investigating last month after neighbor Trever Lawrence Stermer, 20, of Lake Worth, reported that he saw Richards tapped her pet with a broom handle, pushing it up the stairs. Stermer’s roommate, Mike Kulikowski, 28, of Gainesville, said when he confronted Richards about the dog, she threatened to shoot him.
“This lady is crazy,” Kulikowski said in an interview. “We want her out and evicted. What she is doing is evil, ungodly and unright.”
Stermer, who described the canine as the “happiest dog ever,” said he heard the yelps and screams of the pup from outside his porch on the first floor of the building. He said it came from Richards’ apartment.
Stermer said he confronted Richards, who screamed at him and threatened him with a belt. “You wanna find out?” she said, according to Stermer. He called the police to report the threats, he said. When police left, he said he recorded Richards hurting the dog again.
In the video, which Stermer shared with WUFT News, Richards appears to drag the animal up the stairs by the neck and beat the dog with a belt while shouting profanity at the dog.
Another neighbor, Daimian Jamel Wilson, 18, of Jacksonville, said he and fellow neighbors discuss the dog’s pained yelping regularly.
“We have a group chat,” Wilson said, “We talk about how you can hear the dog whining for hours.”
Saul Godinez-Rodriguez moved in three months ago and lives below Richards. He is also a part of this community group-chat that discussed Richards. He told authorities he hears the dog “yelping on a daily basis.”
“Everyone kept insisting we call the police or animal control to solve the situation,” Godinez-Rodriguez said.
Another neighbor, who wishes to remain anonymous, told police that she started hearing the dog being abused in March when it was still a young puppy. She had seen Richards hit the dog with a belt, a shoe and her hands.
“It sounded like when you step on a dog by accident, but it was over and over again,” she told police.
Richards was in jail in lieu of a $25,000 bond.
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